What is Dairy UP?

  • 3 Theme Areas
  • 10 Projects
  • 5 years
  • A coordinated network of monitored dairy farms

Helping farmers increase productivity and profitability

Program activities

DairyUp is a major research and development program to help NSW farmers unlock the potential of their dairy businesses. It’s a collaboration of the University of Sydney’s Dairy Research Foundation, NSW DPI, Dairy Australia, and Scibus, with support from a range of NSW dairy industry players.

DairyUp involves 10 projects which address the three keys to unlocking dairy potential: Improving productivity and profitability, de-risking farming systems and developing new markets.

P1: Unlocking the potential of Kikuyu-based systems

Enabling farmers to maximise milk from pasture using remote sensing, advanced genetics, toxicity control and manipulation of Kikuyu’s nutritive value.

Activities

  1. Identify and quantify key impediments to achieve productivity gains from tropical grasses (kikuyu-based pasture) on commercial farms in NSW farms.
  2. Work with 10-15 farms in 3 regions (North Coast; Hunter/Mid Coast; Bega/South Coast) to help them to increase productivity by > 20%.
  3. Integrate remote sensing-derived data with advanced simulation modelling to predict changes in the nutritive value of kikuyu and other species commonly used in NSW.
  4. Identify and quantify genetic diversity in selected dairy-specific traits of kikuyu.
  5. Quantify C emissions on intensively managed pasture-based systems.
  6. Use resources from 1 to 5 to work collaboratively with EMAI to unveil the long-term problem of kikuyu toxicity (poisoning).
  7. Develop (from 2) an orchestrated network of leading farmers and advanced farming systems for innovative extension programs.

Project team

  • Lead/co-ordinator: Yani Garcia
  • Toxicity module lead: Jim Rothwell, NSW DPI
  • Genetics module lead: Richard Trethowan, USyd
  • Environment module lead: Luciano Gonzalez, Usyd
  • Modeling/quality module lead: Juan Insua, UNMdP
  • David Barber (QDAF)
  • Ruairi McDonnell (DA)
  • Peter Beale (LLS  Hunter)
  • Zita Ritchie (NSW DPI; north coast)
  • Juan Gargiulo (NSW DPI)
  • Mark Callow (Norco)
  • Neil Moss (Scibus)
  • James Neal or farmer rep
  • John Penry (DA)
  • Pheona Smoczynska (DA project manager)
  • Jim Rothwell (NSW DPI)

PhD Projects

P2: Unlocking the potential of the cow

Enhancing the well-being of intensively managed dairy cattle – to increase productivity and welfare, while reducing the environmental footprint.

Activities

A series of orchestrated programs and data-driven interventions to allow dairy cattle to be productive, healthy and reproductively successful by:

  1. Predicting and preventing disease in dairy herds, reducing the wastage of older cows while enhancing the potential to improve production and reproduction.
  2. Quantifying risk factors that influence the removal of cows using large data sets from USA, AUS and NZ and from local herds with detailed production and health data.
  3. Accurately detecting of diseases including arbovirus and bacterial disease in real time.
  4. Identifying behavioural and physiological characteristics of healthy and productive cows on farms. This will include monitoring related to facility design including environmental monitoring that can be linked to cow comfort and production. Time series statistical methods can be used in a multivariable context to identify the key drivers of cow comfort and production.
  5. Developing innovative extension models engaging farmers, farm-to-farm dissemination; consultants, service providers including engineering companies and researchers.

Project team

  • Lead/co-ordinator: Ian Lean, Scibus
  • Jim Rothwell (NSW DPI)
  • Helen Golder (Scibus)
  • Cameron Clark (USyd)
  • John Penry (DA)
  • Pheona Smoczynska (DA project manager)
  • Nico Lyons (NSW DPI)

PhD Projects

P3: The economics of intensification

Supporting farmers considering investment in feeding and housing systems – new information and tools to inform decisions about capital investment in feeding and housing systems.

Activities

  1. A planned, retrospective study of farm financial and physical performance in a subset of NSW farms currently along the system intensification continuum will be conducted (estimated 10-14 study farms).
  2. A social science study to explore drivers for change and the historic decision-making process in the same study cohort of farms.

Project team

  • Lead/co-ordinator: John Penry, DA (initial), Karen Romano, DA (project lead)
  • Dan Armstrong (consultant)
  • Claire Waterman (Agvic)
  • Terry Batey (Agvic)
  • Sheena Carter (NSW DPI)
  • Juan Gargiulo (NSW DPI)
  • Pheona Smoczynska (DA project manager)

P4: Feedbase for intensive systems

Matching productivity and environmental targets through designer feed and cropping systems for intensive production systems.

Activities

  1. Integrate precision crop nourishment (timing, source, interactions summer-winter forage crops) through digital agriculture (digital soil mapping, digital sampling, decomposed digital data, precision water and N).
  2. Advanced real-time monitoring of crop development (and its application on forecast/planning and ration formulation).
  3. Quantify and verify water use efficiency of simple, double and triple forage crop systems.
  4. Assess drought impact: what systems look like with 50% of the required water.
  5. Upskill of management practices to produce quality silage.
  6. Model and evaluate temperate and tropical forage options including annual legumes as winter and summer options; intercropping.
  7. New directions in maize research: Brown Mid-Rib corn; genetic improvement of maize for silage; superior starch characteristics; tailoring maize silage to system/animal needs. Data-driven approaches for high quality maize silage: grow maize for quality through detailed nutritional analysis and feed evaluation.

Project team

  • Lead/co-ordinator: Yani Garcia, USyd
  • Ian Lean or Neil Moss (Scibus)
  • Nico Lyons (NSW DPI)
  • Cameron Clark (USyd)

PhD Projects

P5: Our Farm Our Plan

Helping NSW dairy farmers to develop business plans to be fit for the future.

More info

Activities

  1. Implement the program’s monitoring and evaluation plan and, in addition, conduct research into the impact of the 1:1 support provided to farmers to inform future investment decisions.
  2. Deliver Our Farm, Our Plan workshops to 16-18 groups (total of 220 farms at an average of eight farms per group).
  3. Deliver 1:1 support for farmers through four structured follow up touch points over 24 months – this support will include facilitating a group of farms to enter their performance data through the DairyBase software.
  4. Building regional delivery capacity – this will include Regional Extension Officers (REOs) and private providers including Training and developing REOs, private providers, 3rd party organisations (Rural Financial Counsellors, Processers, Banks, Accountants and Farm Consultants), TAFE and tertiary education providers; some of these private consultants will engage with a subset of farms to work through specific identified issues as a result of the Our Farm our Plan process.

Project team

  • Lead/co-ordinator: Neil Webster
  • DA & Libby Heard (DA)
  • Paul van Wel (Dairy NSW)
  • Greg Duncan (Dairy NSW)
  • Keran Gandhi (DA project manager)

P6: Future Systems – Dairy Da.T.A

Applying Data, advanced Technology and Automation tools to intensive dairy production systems for higher profits, reduced complexity, improved animal welfare and better environmental outcomes.

Activities

  1. Analyse dairy systems with a multidisciplinary approach by integrating dairy, nutrition, agronomy, climate, engineering and data science (among others) areas and expertise to develop new and innovative solutions through the application of data, advanced technologies and automation.
  2. Optimise digester function; energy use (cooling requirements/efficiency) in intensive systems – link with P2.
  3. Resilience cow prediction (from Survival, Heat Tolerance, Fertility Breeding Values, local area, region), using historic data + data science = forecasting for early alerts (sale, purchase feed etc).
  4. Digital twin: Exploiting data generated to optimise grain allocation in pasture-based systems.
  5. Develop more efficient, data-driven and data-controlled calf rearing systems for intensive dairy systems using automated feeders.

Project team

  • Lead/co-ordinator: Cameron Clark, Usyd
  • Yani Garcia (Usyd)
  • Nico Lyons (NSW DPI)
  • Ian Lean (Scibus)
  • Jim Rothwell (NSW DPI)
  • Peter Thompson (Usyd)
  • Juan Gargiulo (NSW DPI)

PhD Projects

P7: Dairy businesses for future climates

Identifying key vulnerabilities and the changing risk profiles of current and emerging coastal production systems.

Activities

  1. Over 18 months, undertake a detailed analysis of one coastal NSW dairy case study farm.
  2. Using biophysical and economic modelling developed in prior DBFC projects, an analysis of future climate scenarios for the region will be determined. In addition, actual farm data collected for at least one financial year combined with this modelling data will be used as the basis for comparing options for the future under various climate change scenarios.
  3. A regional farmer reference group will be established to help sense-check any future climate adaptation strategies proposed to be analysed for the case study farm.

Project team

  • Lead/co-ordinator: Alison Kelly, DA
  • Dan Armstrong (consultant)
  • Paul van Wel (Dairy NSW)
  • Ashley Burgess (DA project manager)

P8: Farmer capability, coaching and extension (formerly Dairy Passport)

Assisting farm owners to engage, induct and retain rural employees.

More info

Activities

  1. Supported employee and dairy farm manager registration will be made available to all NSW dairy farm businesses (following on from the previously funded pilot phase in Victoria during mid-late 2020).
  2. Through a re-designed user interface, Dairy Passport users will be able to build their digital CV which is transportable between dairy employers.
  3. Farm Capability Dashboard will be released to provide an inclusive view of activity to enable informed decision making in relation to risk, capability and managing people.
  4. Standard Operating Procedures will be made available via video or QR code with concurrent automated compliance reporting and can be aligned with NSW DPI resources.

Project team

  • Lead/co-ordinator: Sally Roberts, DA
  • Felicity Blackstock (DA)
  • Paul van Wel (Dairy NSW)
  • Greg Duncan (Dairy NSW)
  • Scott Watson (DA project manager)

P9: Designer Milk

Unlocking the potential of milk through new detection models, manipulation of milk secretion and exploration of new alternatives in manufacturing. New products, new understandings, new markets.

Activities

  1. Detection models (targeted at consumers): source of origin, biological provenance verification
  2. Milk attributes / New products: Concentrating milk (‘more milk solids with less water’)
  3. Lateral systems thinking: Manufacturing input of biodegradable products & Colostrum management

Project team

  • Lead/co-ordinator: Nico Lyons, NSW DPI
  • Yani Garcia (USyd)
  • Ian Lean (Scibus)
  • Cameron Clark (Usyd)

PhD Projects

P10: Dairy beef

Creating a sustainable path to market for non-replacement dairy-calf market.

Activities

  1. A collaborative approach to unpack the determinants of the status quo and possible levers for change, taking industry and community views through a process that moves from divergent views, through creative tension, to convergent views.
  2. Inform non-replacement dairy calf supply chain innovation and support commercial projects (eg local supply chains) where the end result is a sustainable model for consumer accepted dairy beef.
  3. Identify unique aspects of beef derived from dairy cattle and develop new products utilising these attributes.

Project team

  • Lead/co-ordinator: Sarah Bolton, DA
  • Louise Sunderman, DA
  • Pip Gale (consultant)
  • Paul van Wel, Dairy NSW
  • Greg Duncan, Dairy NSW
  • Keran Gandhi (DA project manager)
  • Sabrina Lomax (USyd)